Gnolls are a race of hulking, humanoids that resemble hyenas in more than mere appearance; they show a striking affinity with the scavenging animals, to the point of keeping them as pets, and reflect many of the lesser creatures’ behaviors. They are capable hunters but are far happier to scavenge or steal a kill than to go out and track down prey. This laziness impels them to acquire slaves of whatever type is available, whom they force to dig warrens, gather supplies and water, and even hunt for their gnoll masters.

Creatures other than hyenas and other gnolls are either meat or slaves, depending upon the temperament of the tribe. Even a dead or fallen comrade is a fresh meal for a gnoll, who might honor a distinguished tribe member with a brief prayer, or thoroughly cook one that has died of a wasting disease, but otherwise view a dead gnoll as little different from any other creature. The more “civilized” gnolls do not eat their prisoners, but instead keep them as slaves, either to defend or improve their lair or to trade with other tribes or slaver bands.

Gnolls relish combat, but only when they have the obvious advantage of numbers. In other situations, they prefer to avoid combat except as a means of winning a kill from another hunter, or as a clever ambush to bring down a large meal. These hyena-men see no value in courage or valor, instead preferring to flee once it becomes clear that victory is not possible, noting that it is better to run with tail tucked away than to lose one’s tail entirely.

During combat, gnolls use a strange mixture of pack tactics and individual standoffs. If a gnoll feels that it is winning, it attempts to take down a weaker being rather than aiding its fellows. If the gnolls are struggling, they gang up on a powerful leader and try to take that creature down, in the hopes of forcing its allies to flee.

Gnoll leaders are typically rangers, although clerics are highly regarded as well. Most gnolls find arcane magic difficult to master, and as a result it is relatively rare to see a gnoll bard, sorcerer, or wizard.

Racial Traits

  • Ability Score Modifiers +2 Strength, +2 Constitution: Gnolls are strong and tough, with excellent endurance.
  • Type: Gnolls are humanoids with the gnoll subtype.
  • Size: Gnolls are Medium creatures and receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Speed: Gnolls have a base speed of 30 feet.
  • Senses: Gnolls have darkvision and so can see perfectly in the dark up to 60 feet.
  • Natural Armor: Gnolls have tough hide and musculature granting them a +2 natural armor bonus to AC.
  • Languages: Gnolls begin play speaking Gnoll only. Gnolls with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Aklo, Common, Draconic, Elven, Giant, Ignan, Terran.

Alternate Racial Traits

Gnolls can select any of the following alternate racial traits.

  • Blood Frenzy: Some gnolls go nearly mad at the sight of blood, their own or others. When the gnoll takes damage in combat or confirms a critical hit or deals bleed damage to a target, on its next turn it can fly into a rage as a free action. It gains +2 Constitution and +2 Strength, but takes a –2 penalty to its AC. The rage lasts as long as the battle or 1 minute, whichever is shorter. It cannot end its rage voluntarily. These savage gnolls scar their flesh, reducing their natural armor bonus to +1. This racial trait replaces natural armor.
  • Carrion Crawler: Gnolls prefer fresh meat whenever they can get it but feast like scavengers on any flesh they can find. This grants the gnoll a +2 bonus on saving throws against disease, poison, and effects that would cause them to become nauseated or sickened. This tainted diet does weaken their muscle development, however, and gnolls with this trait do not gain the normal +2 bonus to their Strength score.
  • Cowardly Cur: While all gnolls are boastful, many hide the heart of a coward. Such gnolls take a -2 penalty on saves against fear and on Intimidate checks. However, they gain an additional +1 dodge bonus to AC when fighting defensively (+2 when using the total defense action) and their base speed is increased by 10 feet when using the withdraw action. Gnolls with this trait take a -4 penalty on Charisma checks and Charisma-based skill checks with other gnolls; this stacks with the penalty on Intimidate checks described above. This racial trait does not replace any existing trait and may be selected by any gnoll.
  • Desert Runner: Some gnolls thrive in the deepest deserts, forever roaming across burned and parched lands. Gnolls with this racial trait are immune to becoming dazzled and receive a +4 racial bonus on Constitution checks and Fortitude saves to avoid fatigue, exhaustion, or ill effects from running, forced marches, starvation, thirst, or hot or cold environments. This racial trait replaces darkvision.
  • Scent: Some gnolls favor a keen sense of smell over sensitive sight. Gnolls with this racial trait gain the scent ability. This racial trait replaces darkvision.
  • Slavering Jaws: Gnolls gain a natural bite attack, dealing damage equivalent to that of a creature one size category lower than normal for their size (1d3 for Small gnolls, 1d3 for Medium, etc.). The bite is a primary attack, or a secondary attack if the creature is wielding manufactured weapons. Their more flexible hide reduces their natural armor bonus to AC to +1. This racial trait replaces natural armor.

Favored Class Options

The following options are available to all gnolls who have the listed favored class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the favored class reward.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Alien Codex © 2018, Legendary Games; Lead Designer: Jason Nelson. Authors: Anthony Adam, Kate Baker, John Bennet, Eytan Bernstein, Robert Brookes, Russ Brown, Duan Byrd, Paris Crenshaw, Jeff Dahl, Robyn Fields, Joel Flank, Matt Goodall, Robert J. Grady, Jim Groves, Steven T. Helt, Thurston Hillman, Tim Hitchcock, Nick Hite, Daniel Hunt, Mike Kimmel Marshall, Isabelle Lee, Jeff Lee, Lyz Liddell, Jason Nelson, Richard Pett, Tom Phillips, Jeff Provine, Alistair J. Rigg, Alex Riggs, Wendall Roy, Mike Shel, Neil Spicer, Todd Stewart, Russ Taylor, Rachel Ventura, Mike Welham, George Loki Williams, Scott Young.

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